So, I was sitting around thinking about Christmas, drinking hot chocolate in my Christmas onesie. Oh, wait, that wasn't me. It was this guy:
Christmas. It's the most wonderful, high-stress, anxiety-producing, family-fightin', bank account emptying time of year!
But it doesn't have to be.
Here's the secret to a stress-free, spiritually meaningful Christmas:
This post has nothing to do with that guy - I just felt left out because everyone else was posting his picture today.
Here's how to get spiritually prepped for Christmas:
1. Find moments to stop everything, be present, and savor.
When I perform a wedding ceremony for a couple, I tell them: "Several times during this weekend stop everything you are doing and savor. Take a mental picture of the people around you that you love. Notice the light, feel the air on your skin, catch your beloved's eye across the room at the rehearsal dinner. Freeze that moment and capture it, imprint it on your senses. Savor. Be, don't do.
For me, this is late Christmas Eve after most everyone is in bed. I take a very short walk alone, in the utter silence of Christmas Eve, and savor. I breathe, and look at the lights and at the sky and I talk to God. I've done it for twenty years and each year I can't wait for those ten minutes.
2. Read the Christmas story in the Bible once a day for the week leading up to Christmas.
Try Luke 2. Each day, imagine yourself as a different character in the story. What were they thinking and feeling in those days? What was it like to be Mary? To be Joseph? To be the shepherds or an angel? To be the magi who came a few years later to visit the toddler Jesus? Now, put yourself in the story. What would it have been like for you?
3. Spend time and money you don't have on someone else who needs it during the week leading up to Christmas.
Give some money directly - directly - to someone, anonymously if you can. Figure out how much is prudent and then give more. Talk to the folks at local charities to find folks who are in need if you don't know anyone. We try to do this every year around this time; there is always need.
You're busy, no time, family to see, presents to wrap, stuff to do. So, find some time for someone who would give almost anything to be as busy as you are, to have stuff to do and have someone to do it with. Invest time in them that you don't think you have.
I'll talk to you before then, but Merry Christmas. Prepare well, friends.